Very Recent History: 14-Jan-11

Very Recent History – some of things I’ve been reading recently.

The Death of Bohemia

Mel Exon, at BBH Labs, wrote a great post about how, as the creative world moves faster and faster, “we need a little time to digest; work out what’s a fad versus what’s really interesting.” He used a quote from William Gibson, which I thought was quite nice — and cautionary:

“Bohemias. Alternative subcultures. They were a crucial aspect of industrial civilization in the previous two centuries. They were where industrial civilization went to dream. A sort of unconscious R&D, exploring alternate societal strategies. Each one would have a dress code, characteristic forms of artistic expression, a substance or substances of choice, and a set of sexual values at odds with those of the culture at large… But they became extinct…. We started picking them before they could ripen. A certain crucial growing period was lost, as marketing evolved and the mechanisms of recommodification became quicker, more rapacious. Authentic subcultures required backwaters, and time, and there are no more backwaters.”
~ William Gibson, All Tomorrow’s Parties (1999)

Hacker Culture

Ed Cotton, on his Influx blog, talks about the need for “hacker cultures.” He argues that these are the cultures which keep design, and business, healthy. It’s a good echo of his earlier post (which I’d mentioned previously) about why agencies need design labs.

The philosophy of “Hacker Culture” not only applies to the stuff you build, but how you approach business overall.

You kind of want “hackers” everywhere, because they are never satisfied with the status-quo and always looking to improve and better things. They never sit still and they constantly making the future.

While it’s easy to see why “Hacker Cultures” scare most of corporate America, but it seems like the thing that a number of companies need more of right now.

Ed talks about how Facebook is a great example of a company that supports hacking; and how the lack of support for the hacker culture is a key contributor to Yahoo’s demise. There’s been a lot of talk the past weeks asking if Google become too bloated, heavy-handed, and unable to  innovate — is its hacker culture is fading?

iPad Publishing

Frédéric Filloux, on Monday Note, writes about the current problems with iPad publications.

“There is no way around this fact: the first batch of magazines adapted to the iPad failed to deliver. Six months after the initial excitement, the mood has turned turned sour.”

But, if anything, and despite the flaws in the current crop of iPad publications, there’s reason for optimism… we haven’t standardized on something bad. Instead, there’s still a huge opportunity to design an innovative tablet “magazine” experiences. But what is required is much more than interactive and visual, it’ll need to encompass a lot of other strategic changes, and Frédéric details a compelling set of them.

Ryoji Ikeda

Lastly a little eye candy from Ryoji Ikeda (via Creative Applications). Not a lot of interactivity, but very sexy, vaguely retro, high-tech graphics, animations, and performance.

(link via Creative Applications)

(Hacker pic via Flickr/edcotton.)